A partnership between Northumbrian Water and data management specialists 1Spatial will help to improve response times for customers who experience problems with the sewer network in and around their properties.

In 2011, some parts of the sewer network that typically lie within private property boundaries were transferred to water company ownership.

Since then, Northumbrian Water has been using traditional surveying techniques to identify what was initially expected to be 13,500km of adopted sewers. This has involved digitising maps from sources including local authorities and developers.

The use of the new digital mapping system, created in collaboration between Northumbrian Water and Cambridge-based 1Spatial, is expected to reduce the cost of the process from £10m to £2.5m and cut the time taken to complete it from five years to two years.

Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water’s Sewerage and New Development Manager, said: “Having the most complete understanding possible of our sewer network helps us to enhance and make more efficient our response to incidents such as blockages and collapses.

“Our partnership with 1Spatial has led to the development of an industry-leading process that combines our expertise and traditional surveying with state of the art mapping technology. The process is also resulting in significant savings in the cost and length of the process, delivering value for money and a valuable resource that otherwise wouldn’t have been available for a number of years.”

Bob Chell, Head of Consultancy Services at 1Spatial, said: “Working collaboratively with Northumbrian Water to understand their data and business challenges with the sewer network, we were able to use our expertise, knowledge and software to provide a solution to meet the needs of the project. This has resulted in significant benefits including cost savings and process improvement. We were delighted to partner with Northumbrian on such an innovative and industry leading solution.”